10 Things I Learned as a Sports Marketing Intern
It’s hard to believe that almost a year has passed since I shared my news with you about landing the sports marketing internship in my university’s athletic office. Yet we’ve already wrapped up football, soccer, and volleyball seasons. Men’s and women’s basketball competes for the last time at home this coming weekend, which made me think about what I’ve gained from this experience. In no particular order (and because you know I love lists), here are 10 silly, serious, surprising, and sweet things I have learned through my sports marketing internship:
1.) People will do almost anything for a free t-shirt.
Marketing is in charge of the giveaways, half-time games and prizes, and student incentives. Do not underestimate the persuasive power of school-spirited sunglasses. When we promote games through social media, flyers on campus, or email blasts, we always include what special item the first 100 fans will receive. And you best believe that fan #101 is basically heart-broken over their denial of a rally towel.
2.) Freshmen are a unique type of sports fan.
Bless this poor freshman’s good intentions. (Apparently he didn’t watch Mean Girls to learn from Karen’s mistake. Backwards-E for Effort, young man!)
Seriously though, freshmen are the best target market for home games because A.) they are under-21 and looking for weekend social activities, B.) are pretty excited to be experiencing college sports for the first time, and C.) provide shameless entertainment for the rest of us.
3.) Working in an athletic office will result life-long friends.
You will work with people who live in the same area, have the same marketing degree, have the same career goals, have the same passion for sports, love good smack talk, and are equally enthusiastic about new polos. Work buddies become friends real fast when you spend 8 hours together at home football games.
4.) No two days are ever the same!
During last Saturday night’s game, the marching band sang “Pretty Fly for a White Guy” and a fan ATE HIS TICKET live on the jumbotron for the “Smile Cam.” You never know what is going to happen.
On the morning of our homecoming game, the director of marketing’s (AKA my boss) office literally caught on fire. 6-foot flames left his wall and carpet with a blackened reminder to never over-charge blimp batteries. We have a sponsor who flies a small blimp around our indoor stadium during halftime as advertising. The blimp uses a remote control and special large batteries. My boss had the batteries plugged into his wall charging as we met to go over game-day preparations. As I stood at the door of his office, I heard a POP followed by smoke. Then like a movie, flames burst up and hugged his wall. The fire alarm went off, the dome was evacuated, the fire department came. Point of the story: we still won homecoming ;)
5.) If you thought you’re arts n’ crafts days were over, think again!
Sometimes you realize that you need a sign to direct traffic and only Crayola’s will do! Along these lines, a lot of an intern’s duties on game day come up as we see a need. We pay attention to the overall event and respond to situations that come up. If the crowd is losing energy, if the weather is crappy during tailgating, if the mascot is sick, if a sponsor needs help with their promotion, then we work to find solutions!
6.) When printing on pink paper from the office printer, make sure to refill with white paper when you are done.
Very first day working in the office – I was asked to make copies of flyers in the color of my choice. I selected a neon pink paper (surprised?). I finished making my flyers and left to do something else. Few minutes later, the Athletic Director walks out of the copy room with a memo she printed….bright pink paper in her hand. “Is there are reason we’re printing on pink paper?” Oops! This is not the time to pull an Elle Woods moment.
7.) Always take advantage of a personal bounce house:
The business side of the sports industry is historically male-dominated. Nowadays, though, women are prevalent in almost all areas. At least, they are in the region I work in. I only have experience in the southwest so I won’t make generalizations about American sports as a whole. From my own experience, we have a female Athletic Director (AKA the boss of the collegiate athletic department), females in the compliance, marketing, media and development aspects of the department. 50% of the interns are female, and the same can be said for the graduate assistants. The sports industry is typically seen as masculine, but you might be surprised by how many women are planning and organizing the behind-the-scenes of it all (in heels and bows no less!) :)
9.) Marketing can enhance the game day experience, but what truly determines a fan’s satisfaction is winning vs. losing.
In marketing, we have our detailed schedules, our spreadsheets, game-day scripts, and pre- and post-game meetings. We are organized. Yet the biggest thing we cannot control is the outcome of the game. Our efforts are to enhance the experience for the fans. As much as I’d like to think that our amazing half-time show can save the game, the deciding factor between a fan walking away satisfied or disappointed is if the team won or lost.
Though free pizza coupons can soften the blow (see #1 above).
10.) Lastly I learned that sports marketing might not be exactly the career path I am set on. It’s a fantastic field and a perfect combination of athletics and entertainment; however there are other areas of business that I don’t want to rule out either. This internship has taught me not to be so narrow-minded about my goals. Sports can be a glamorous industry, but the workplace environment is really one of the most important factors in finding happiness with your job :)
16 and Wild at the Phoenix Open
What a privilege to have full access to a professional sporting event, in fact the most attended tournament on the PGA tour. Today I started my internship at the WM Phoenix Open, the FedEx Cup. Although the official tournament doesn’t begin until Thursday, there has already been plenty of action for spectators. The Pro Am took place today, with lots of other fun promotions on Hole 16 aka “the party hole.”
- First – it is NOT your average golf round.
- The hole is surrounded by 15,000 spectator seats (the most of any on the PGA tour)
- It is notoriously known for fans rowdy behavior, noise levels which would be taboo on any other course.
- Tiger Woods hit a hole-in-one here the last time he played at this tournament
- This hole is iconic for its atmosphere – more like a football game, than golf.
- Skyboxes and Loge passes are $45,000-$150,000.
I began today by picking out my new set of wheels….
Just to set the stage a little bit. Scottsdale, Arizona is absolutely GORGEOUS. I had the pleasure of driving into Scottsdale during sunrise this morning, and the sky was cotton-candy colored while the mountains were a grey/purple. Cameras don’t to desert colors justice. The golf course is as prestigious as you would imagine from a nationally-televised sporting event. The holes have large stadium seats and skyboxes with elaborate buffets, desserts and coffees, and of course full bars throughout.
First let me mention that I have never played or watched a golf event unless mini golf at Fiesta Village counts. Even in my interview for this position, I straight-up admitted that I was not very familiar with golf. But I was excited about an opportunity to learn about the behind-the-scenes business aspect of a new sport! So my expectations for this Open were: very quiet crowds of people, lined around the course. Stuffy “golf claps.” Silly golf outfits.
Well….I was right about the outfits part. Golfers love their crazy pants. Exhibit A:
(Seeing how many pictures I took of other people’s pants today is making me concerned now.)
But the atmosphere of the spectators was far from stuffy or quiet. It was a 100,000 guest P-A-R-T-Y. The music was blasting, the drinks were flowing, the entertainment was constant. The “shot at glory” on Hole 16 was a treat! We stood in the skyboxes, looking down at professional athletes, businesspeople, and celebrities swing on the green. My personal highlights were Jake Owen, Larry Fitzgerald, and the tall cute guy from Lady Antebellum (I don’t know his real name…).
I watched Tiger putt on Hole 15 and fall apart on Hole 16. I learned who Phil Mickelson is, and apparently missed Tim Tebow autographs by a few minutes. I’m not a star-struck person, because when you see Tiger Woods in real life he just looks like a normal person. But it was pretty cool to have such an out-of-the-ordinary day (on a school day!) and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!
Let’s Start Again…
After 99 days, I’ve returned to blogging. :) I mean it this time! The first half of my senior year of college went very differently than I imagined. I could sugar-coat the year but honestly…..it blew. My schedule was so demanding that I had very little energy to put into anything creative and active.
But I won’t blame being “busy” on my hiatus. Through the fall (the first fall in 8 years that I was not participating in competitive cross country) I had to think of how I wanted to restructure my blog. “Student-athlete perspective on health and fitness” isn’t exactly appropriate anymore since A.) I’ll be graduating in 16 weeks and B.) my collegiate athlete days have come to an end. Reading back through a lot of my old posts, Strong Like My Coffee sometimes comes across like a “how-to” guide to being healthy. Well I’m not qualified to offer constant health and fitness advice, so I figured a little change in objectives was in order here.
This began as a platform for sharing workouts, recipes and health advice. Turns out you can find the same workouts on 63,783,564 sites in this world wide web. My recipes are simply copies or altered versions of other recipes. And as far as “advice”…..I just feel a little silly pouring out health and fitness tips as a 21-year old figuring it out myself.
Obviously my life will always be connected to health and running, but I’m not a health preacher or teacher. I don’t know it all! I would definitely say that a contributing factor to my lack of posts last semester was fear of looking like a hypocrite. Sharing the workouts and the smoothies and the salads without also sharing the frozen yogurt, the skipped run, or the extra peppermint mochas would seem deceiving. Like most bloggers, I can always share my own experiences with striking balance & a healthy lifestyle but I don’t see my blog as a guide or a “how-to” for health and fitness. Not a guru, just a girl who likes to run :)
So then I thought about quitting the blog altogether. I absolutely did NOT want this to become: a journal, diary, or place to brag, complain, vent, preach, or glamorize my life. It’s a tricky balance to create content that is entertaining and positive and focused around a theme. But I don’t like quitting. ;) So I’ve decided to expand my “theme” beyond straight health & fitness to all things domestic…
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned in the past two years of posts, but I am fascinated with the 1950’s and the housewife culture. I am, by no means, a feminist. Not that I judge anyone’s opinions on gender roles in the 21st century, but I personally like the Donna Reed era (It’s a Wonderful Life is one of my favorite movies). It’s emphasis on dressing feminine and classy (heels, skirts and bows), domestic duties like cooking, baking and cleaning, and maintaining discretion (AKA a little social-media-modesty) is refreshing.
I would like to keep my apartment organized and decorated, prepare and cook all of my (mostly healthy) meals, make a mean mojito or manhattan, send thank you notes, read more books, make more phone calls, write and blog, watch the news, take walks outside, curl my hair, paint my nails, and learn to host a cocktail party (sans red solo cups). So why not blog about that (there’s only so many running recaps and protein smoothies you can take anyways, right?!)
More Memories, Less Selfies.
I even created a “Domesticated” Pinterest board with more elaborate and hearty recipes for when I cook for other people (because apparently not everybody craves arugala and fennel.)
So what are my New Year’s Resolutions?
I HAVE NONE.
January 1st just felt like another day, not an impending deadline to come up with new goals. Plus 2015 is full of big moments (graduating college!!!!) and the unknown (finding a job???) that I would rather take as it comes. :)
I’m optimistically thinking my upcoming semester will be significantly better than the previous. But instead of promising that I’ll start posting more, I’ll just prove it to you. ;)